The U.S. has been experiencing an increase in concern about gun violence and mass shootings, with 47% of our 2022 State of Safety survey respondents expressing worry—up from 36% the previous year. Concern related to guns is complicated and fueled by various factors, including fears of gun rights being threatened and ongoing reports of gun incidents in the news.
One alarming trend is the increasing proximity of gun incidents to people's homes, with more individuals reporting hearing gunshots in their neighborhoods. I've had three personal experiences with gunshots near my home or a friend's home in the past 12 months—one took out a living room window.
Personal experiences with gun violence incidents have risen by 50% year over year, with nearly half of Americans worried about becoming victims themselves. And almost 90% of survey comments mentioning guns or gun violence expressed anxiety or fear.
When it comes to concern about gun violence, Louisiana tops the list, with 75% of residents highly concerned. Georgia, Louisiana, and South Carolina reported the most personal experiences with gun violence in 2021.
Interestingly, our survey found that some Americans who were previously anti-gun are now embracing firearms for personal protection. Gun sales have been growing, especially among women and people of color. In 2020, between 20% and 40% of gun purchases were made by first-time gun owners.
Overall, while there has been a decrease in some aspects of gun violence since 2021, the issue remains a significant concern in the United States, with mass shootings and gun-related deaths continuing to be a pressing problem.